Chloe Hong: Canoe, Toronto
Chloe Hong likes to tell a story on the plate, and this one— called “Chocolate + Nancy’s English mint”—fits the Canoe narrative like a glove.
The restaurant’s slogan is “inspired by Canada’s raw, rich land.” And the inspiration for the dessert was a garden, the source of the fresh mint. The plate features a seemingly haphazard but perfectly colour-balanced mix of earthy brown and verdant green; there is a disk of cool mint, a quenelle of icy-smooth mint ice cream, a firm dollop of mint meringue and a crumbled heap of flourless chocolate cake, all perched on a plate strewn with chocolate streusel that looks like a lashing of soil. If you can take one classic combination that works (chocolate and mint) and reinterpret it a half- dozen new ways and then put it all together in a manner that communicates some fair part of what your restaurant is all about, well, you are a pastry chef doing a very good job indeed. And if it tastes as good as this, rich with texture and nuance, you are doing a great one. Hong has a keenly developed aesthetic and a refined touch. Her yogurt Panna cotta nestled under a square tabletop of pink peppercorn-infused sugar dressed with cranberries is among the prettiest modern desserts in the city. But just as important, it is bright and fresh and nicely textured, and does what dessert is supposed to do: it is refreshing.
Pastry chef Masami Waki is a crucial part of what makes Le Club Chasse et Pêche—and its progeny, Le Filet and Le Serpent—such interesting restaurants.
Born in Japan, she moved to Montreal in 1998. She had no special training as a chef. But while she was helping out with sushi at a trendy restaurant on Saint Lawrence Boulevard, she met the great Bertrand Bazin—formerly of the posh private club 357c and now at Park—who showed her how to make pastry. Now, almost 20 years later, she is one of the best in the city. She combines perfect technique with Japanese aesthetics and the unwavering belief that creativity must be subjected to the taste test. There are no strange austere vegetable desserts on her menu. Instead, there is a caramel and milk chocolate tart or pistachio biscuit with cardamom cream and lychee sorbet. It is always worth making a late- evening stop at any of her restaurants—just for one her desserts. — M-C.L.